It began as a normal Friday in September…last day of the work week, plans to take care of the chores ahead for the weekend, get the kids to school and back, and the other normal things in our busy lives.
As I departed for my workplace that morning, the weather report called for severe storms with the possibility of damaging winds and the possibility of…gasp…tornadoes, the one threat we Hoosiers fear the most.
At work that morning, I went through my usual duties of a television editing technician, still keeping an eye and ear on the weather monitors located in my area. At that time, my schedule called for me to depart at 1:00 p.m., and I was looking forward to having lunch with my missus who worked at the Perry Township Education Center. Prior to leaving the station, I looked one more time at the monitors, listened to the National Weather Service reports and was aware of the giant storm with tornadoes which was headed Northeast, and at the time headed for Ellettsville. The plotting on these weather maps showed the storm headed directly to…oh no…Perry Township, Homecroft, the Carson Square area and continuing on from there. I jumped in my car, left the building on Bluff Road quickly, keeping a wary eye on the skies and conditions as I headed for Homecroft and the Education Center. Passing Southport High School on Banta Road, I noticed the students there being escorted to the field house in the still dry but breezy and cool day. At about 1:20 p.m., the radio reports stated coming that the Ellettsville area was hit bad and the line of tornadoes were headed our way, as I heard the blare of the sirens as I got out of my car to meet my wife.
The rain was starting, and all the employees at the center had gathered in the lobby for safety. No sooner than I got into the building, the rain came down hard, then slowed and we all heard that awful sound you associate with a tornado. In its wake, it twisted the trees in the front yard of the center about 200 degrees, an unbelievable sight those of us watching through the doors will never forget. In a few minutes, except for the light rain, all was calm again, as one of the employees listening to the radio told us all that reports indicated emergency vehicles were dispatched to the Homecroft area, and that the tornado had touched down near Southport Middle School, Roncalli High School and along I-65 between Keystone and Thompson Road, and oh my God, Lindbergh Highlands, where our home was located. About 2 p.m., I left my wife and the building hoping for the best. Going east on Banta, looking north and south on Madison(before any emergency vehicles had arrived) the scene was surreal, like out of a Twilight Zone, with trees and utility poles twisted on broken in grotesque shapes, and buildings ripped apart with all types of debris in their usual well-manicured front yards. I feared for the worst to come at our home on Byrd Drive. I finally arrived there about 45 minutes later, a usual 10 minute drive, after having to take several detours down streets I didn’t even know existed in the area. As I got closer, tears welled up in my eyes as I saw neighbor’s houses torn apart…yes, the tornado had hit us. I drove up our driveway to a debris (mostly from the Carson Square shopping center) filled yard and was relieved at first glance to see no major damage except for a few tree limbs and torn shingles.
As I got out of the car with a light rain falling, I looked up to the heavens to thank the Almighty for sparing us, and witnessed the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen. Yes, in the worse of situations, there is always something to remind us of the beauty in life! After reflecting on this “miracle”, it was time for me to revise our weekend plans to cleaning up the damage, and learning how to survive for the next five days without electricity. Then there was the matter of retrieving our kids from Southport Middle School and Jeremiah Gray-Edison School. Ask any parents about the challenge this was, and to today I still cannot thank the school’s staffs enough for their long hours seeing to it all the students were safe. The next challenge was supper that night and meals for days to come. Hey, the food cooked on our camping grille was great and we somehow survived “roughing it” with our new unexpected diet. When my late father-in-law “checked in” with me a few days later asking what he could do to help us out, my immediate response was may we come over and take hot showers. Amazing how little things mean so much. After the electricity was up again on Thursday, our normal routine slowly started again, as we were finally about to assess the damage, and take steps to remedy all of it.
By the way, I still find it interesting that when I called our major homeowners insurance company to file a claim that their call center operator, talking to me from Florida, chided me by saying “well you would not have this problem if you didn’t live in a tornado zone”. (I asked her where she was located at, and reminded her that the city in Florida where she was located was well known for its hurricanes…funny how there was a long moment of silence after this!)
To today, 10 years later, there are still reminders of the fury of a tornado and how it affected our lives. Fortunately, our lives were not affected as seriously as others, but, nonetheless, after the experience you do not want a re-visit by the severe forces of nature. What we cannot control makes us stronger. If nothing else came from this event, we gained a new appreciation for our normal daily routines, and something as simple as say, a hot shower. And then there was that beautiful rainbow…! Soldier on, fellow Southsiders, and let’s hope the sun shines on us daily, and the Lord continues to protect us while making us stronger. Oh, and Happy 10th Anniversary of the day the tornadoes came to our beautiful side of Indianapolis!
You must be logged in to post a comment.